Brandon Ray

Every now and then, an artist crosses my path and I can’t wait to share their gifts with the world. Brandon Ray is no exception. Brandon is the type of artist that truly fuels my passion for music because it’s obvious that he shares that same passion. Not only is he talented, but he is also extremely kind and very supportive in helping others follow their dreams. He is the type of artist that I hope to work for personally one day. Anyone can get on stage and perform, but it takes a special artist to really engage with people in a genuine way. Brandon is one of those people.

Brandon Ray was born in Big Spring, TX. In earlier years, he was in a rock band with his brother called “Crimson Soul” and their music was played on rock radio in Dallas. The band started playing regionally before playing nationwide. Then, they did the Warped Tour together. Eventually, band members started to move on and things began to fall apart, but Brandon says “Thank God they did because I had wanted to be in Nashville the whole time to write songs and eventually do the ‘artist thing’.” When he made the move to Nashville 10 years ago in 2009, he never looked back. “It’s home. I’ve planted roots here. I’m not going anywhere.”

On or off stage, Brandon is the real deal. From his incredible vocals, to how he interacts with crowds of hundreds and even thousands of people, to how he backs a band and how he interacts with his fans online… this guy will impress you. Although I was familiar with his single, “Ends of the Earth”, it was when I saw Brandon performing at The Ryman at Bobby Bones’ “Million Dollar Show” in January that I truly knew he was something special. I very distinctly remember saying “This guy is going to be HUGE in just a couple of years”. His immense success in the music industry is already proof of that too. Brandon has written with and shared the stage with countless artists (including the inspiration for “Shine On Music City”, Keith Urban) as well as Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, Jon Pardi, Luke Bryan and many, many more. Although Brandon has performed or worked with practically every current country artist, it’s when he’s up on stage belting out his original tunes that he really SHINES the most. You just FEEL the music when he performs.

Although Brandon has garnered success and emits an impressive stage presence, he is truly humble and down-to-earth. Brandon is always quick to credit others for supporting him throughout his journey. He credits his wife, his family, Keith Urban, Bobby Bones, and (of course) his fans and many others for their unending support. Brandon’s hits “Bring Your Love Back” and “Ends of the Earth” are definitely crowd pleasers, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover songs that speak to your soul… songs like “Unbreaking” from his “Shake ‘Em Off” album… Brandon may have been born in Texas but Nashville, TN is lucky to have this incredible, soulful country artist.

When I first approached Brandon about spotlighting him on Shine On Music City, he shared the same excitement in the idea as I did. Not only that, but he appreciated the opportunity to be featured… There are so many qualities that make him worthy of the success he has gained so far, but this interview and his music will give you a peek into why we think Brandon is so special.

Brandon, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to do this. This means a lot to me.

This means a lot to me too because I can tell how passionate you are about this and music and everything. We’re all in this together and I think we need to just help each other in any way we can.

Exactly! So… I know we both have connections to Keith Urban and I’ve told you about my connection to Keith’s music. I’m curious though…

How did you get connected with Keith Urban?

Bobby Bones played a song of mine called “That Could Be Us” on his show and Ross Copperman (who I had written with a few months before) heard my song and called me. I mentioned that I was leaving my current publishing deal with Sony and that I was looking for a new home for my music and a new producer to work with and to record some new music. Later on that week, I met with Ross Copperman and Joe Fisher. Both of them own and run a publishing company with Keith Urban called Boom Music. Normally, it’s just a publishing company, but after meeting, Ross and Keith asked me if they could produce my record together.

When asked “What’s next?” Brandon responded by saying:

We’re closing out the year. We’re doing the rest of the Chase Rice tour and some more festivals in California toward the end of the year. We’ll be ending the year with Jon Pardi. As far as music and releases, for the current recording and current EP we released “Small Talkin”’, “Bring Your Love Back” and “Second Thoughts”. There are two more songs that we are releasing that will complete the EP that I believe we will be releasing toward the end of October. In December, we will be going back into the studio with Ross and Keith to record the next project.

What’s the hardest part of being an artist?

I think being gone is one of the toughest parts. I’m married and as much as she 100% supports it and is behind it so much, it doesn’t mean it’s not hard and that we don’t miss each other and all that. The ultimate goal one day is to have her be able to come out and tour with us. Honestly, another hard thing though is staying healthy and making sure my voice is where it needs to be… making sure we’re not sick because we’re constantly in different climates and seasons… making sure our diet is good, we’re working out and that we’re taking the proper supplements to battle the different allergies in the different regions. Music is the easy part… and the fun part.

What do you do in your downtime? Do you even have downtime?

When I used to have down time, I used to work on cars. I love old cars. My dad taught me how to work on cars as a kid. Last year, I turned around 3 Ford Broncos. I had a blast doing that, but honestly no. I don’t have time to do anything but sleep, catch up with family when I am in town… and write. I have a full-time job with Warner Brothers Publishing, so when I’m in town I’m writing. I’m recording. It’s music 24/7 which is a blessing.

Who would be on your “dream tour” with you?

Keith Urban, Kip Moore, Bryan Adams, Allen Stone and Ben Rector

What’s been the best moment in all of this so far? Have you had that moment yet where you’ve thought: “That was amazing. I can’t top that”?

The lucky thing for me is that I am starting to have “that moment” more frequently. Getting to record with Keith Urban and sing harmonies on a mic together and getting to chill and hang out and really absorb advice from him to where he has become one of my mentors… that was a huge moment for me. I guess there is validation in that, and also the realization that I’m really not alone in this and I’ve got one of my heroes behind my music which is incredible.

Most recently, being out on the road… I’ve never been to Fort Wayne, Indiana or Kalamazoo, Michigan in my life and being up there and singing my songs… songs that I have out currently and hearing people sing those songs back is unlike any other feeling I’ve ever had in my life… and that just keeps happening. That’s the fuel that makes me want to keep going and keep doing this… writing better songs, putting better songs out and investing into these fans.

That’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to spotlight you on Shine On Music City. I feel like you “get it” and you’re such a good fit into what I want to do and what I want to be a part of in the music industry too. You’re kind of an extension of me in a way and I want to keep putting artists like you that I’m excited about and I believe in out in the spotlight. You’re helping ME set a new bar right now, whether you realize it or not. I want to keep growing and I love the perspective and when an artist like you shares your personal experiences. That’s the connection I have with music too. It’s such a personal experience. This moment is so surreal to me. It’s so cool!

I appreciate your passion and your belief in me.

What’s one of the most valuable lessons you have learned in the music industry or in life?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to always be on time and be kind. You never know who you’ll be encountering in your day-to-day. Whether it’s a personal or professional situation, punctuality is always a reason for someone to want to work with you and know that you’re dependable. In the same way, kindness reflects who you are as a person and is what everyone needs and deserves.

Knowing everything that you know now, would you do anything differently in your career?

I can’t say that I would do anything differently.  I’m very thankful for every opportunity I’ve been given.

What advice would you give an up-and-coming artist or someone just starting out trying to “make it” in the music industry?

I could write a book on advice and stuff, but simply… what’s most important is to truly be yourself in everything you do. It’s easy to hear a song on the radio and think “Oh, I need to write a song like this…” or “I need to sound like this.” – That hurts a lot of people because it’s contrived from the very beginning. I had to learn: What is my thing? Who am I and how I am going to stick to it? I just think that’s the most important thing… Don’t be afraid to ask questions from your heroes and your mentors and people doing what you want to do because that’s the only way you’re going to learn. Half the work is just showing up and doing it. If you’re willing to put the time in and you have a passion and a belief in this, you’re going to succeed.

I think we sometimes put something out there and hope that someone will catch it. My goal is to stay involved in music as much as possible. Is there anything someone like me can do or anything in the industry or in your career that you wish there was more of?

Keep being a supporter of music. When you come see us live, that means the world to us. When you share things, when you do the things you’re already doing, that’s what makes a difference for us.

The music industry needs to continue supporting genuine artists like Brandon Ray. Shine On Music City is excited to see what else the future has in store for him. We’re just glad he took us along for part of his journey so far.

1024px-ITunes_logo.svg download download Pandora Logo 50x50

Be sure to follow Brandon on social media and keep an eye on his full schedule on to see when he is coming to a city near you!

(Photo credit: Ford Fairchild)


Robin Crow

This week, I had the incredible opportunity to meet with the CEO and owner of Dark Horse Recording and Dark Horse Institute, Robin Crow. With an impressive list of accomplishments, not only is Robin a music industry leader and artist with over 20 years of experience, but he is also a motivational speaker and author as well. With his sweet disposition, true professionalism and genuine passion for helping people in the music industry accomplish their goals, Robin Crow is definitely someone who is vital to the music industry. In addition to owning Dark Horse Recording, Robin also started Dark Horse Institute, which is designed to help students gain real life experiences in the music industry. Having personally faced the many obstacles of being a struggling artist in the past himself, he understands the value of getting out there and working in the industry and he provides that with Dark Horse Recording and Dark Horse Institute.

Dark Horse Recording was particularly impressive. It was built in 1993 and felt like a bit of an oasis. To say that it was beautiful would be an understatement. With its rustic charm, cathedral ceilings, beautiful landscape and a peaceful environment, it’s no wonder why big name artists and bands such as Keith Urban, Hunter Hayes, Korn, Carrie Underwood, Matchbox Twenty, Neil Diamond, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Evanescence (and many, many more) have flocked to Dark Horse Recording to record their albums. People from all aspects of the music recording industry have had the opportunity to record their albums or parts of their albums here, with access to some of Dark Horse Recording’s facility, staff engineers and equipment. This place is so incredible that you have to see it in person to truly appreciate the ambiance of it all.


Dark Horse Institute (which is a for-profit academy that was established in 2010) had an entirely different feel, but was equally as impressive. With students milling around and others in studios recording and mixing music, it gave me a chance to get an insider’s perspective on the actual recording process and what these students learn on a day-to-day basis. Dark Horse Institute provides multiple cost effective, short-term programs, which include a 12-week Music Business program and a 17-week Audio Engineering program. These programs give students the opportunity to truly learn how to be successful in the industry with an actual hands-on experience.

I had the opportunity to not only interview Robin Crow, but he also gave me a personal tour of the studios at Dark Horse Recording and then I made my way over to Dark Horse Institute for a tour there as well. Every single person that I encountered during my time at Dark Horse Recording and Dark Horse Institute seemed to truly love it there and were grateful for the services that are provided. I had numerous students at the institute tell me that they wished they had gone there to begin with to get all of their experience. Robin was inspired to create Dark Horse Institute when he started to notice that he was receiving students that didn’t have the skills and knowledge they needed to be truly successful in the industry. I felt that this spoke volumes about what Robin Crow has created with both Dark Horse Recording, as well as Dark Horse Institute.

We spoke about many different things in our time together, but the best advice Robin gave for people who are just starting out is: “If somebody wants to follow their passion, of course they should do that, but I always recommend somehow finding something that both you’re passionate about that you love to do, yet find an area that you can excel in… Wishful thinking is not a strategy”. Robin also stated: “I had to come to the realization that I had no business competing with these great people as a singer or as a pop writer. A lot of time people hear something on the radio and think they can do better, and I would always just implore people to somehow balance their dreams with reality.”


One of the things I respect most about Robin is the fact that although the space is large enough to hold big events, he and the staff at Dark Horse Recording truly prioritize and respect the privacy of the artists that come through their doors to work. What truly impressed me the most throughout my time with Robin on a personal level though, was his ability to connect and also make you feel at ease and well taken care of. He is absolutely one of the nicest people in the industry that I’ve met so far. My experiences with Robin Crow and the time I spent at Dark Horse Recording and Dark Horse Institute are experiences that I won’t soon forget.

If you are interested in checking out Dark Horse Recording, go to their website for more details.

If you’re interested in gaining a more hands-on experience in the music industry, be sure to also check out for more details on the programs they provide.

You can also read more about Robin Crow by visiting his website

(Photos provided by Dark Horse Recording)




Sarah Troy


Sarah Troy is a 22-year-old powerful, pop vocalist originally from Bragg Creek, AB (a little town near Calgary in Canada). She studied music in college in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Nashville in 2015 at the age of 20. Currently, she has released 6 EPs. Although Sarah considers herself to be a Pop artist, her music has some Folk roots as well. Her music explores relationships, the subject of Nature v. Nurture, and Sarah shares her own vulnerabilities through her lyrics.

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to hear some of her original music at a songwriters round with previously spotlighted artist, Pat Kiloran, and I just knew that Sarah would be a great artist to spotlight on Shine On Music City. Not only is she an incredible vocalist, but she has a sweet spirit and innocence about her that I love. Her music allowed me to see a different, darker side to her artistry that I found fascinating. I recently reached out to Sarah and we sat down and discussed her hopes for her career in music.

What led you to pursue a career in music?

Music has always been an outlet for me; a kind of self help. So in the beginning, I don’t think I even considered what it would mean to be a “singer/songwriter”. I just new that It was something I wanted and needed to do all the time, almost as a means of survival. As I grew up and began to understand the way lots of people look at their careers – a means to make money – I think I got a little spooked. I didn’t want my job, the thing I wake up most days to do, to be anything other than something I absolutely loved. I understood the appeal to stability, and even in moments questioned if I was better off working a job that I cared about a bit less so that I could be sure to make a little more money, but I don’t think I ever really saw myself doing anything else; I never really had a plan B. Whatever money I might not make in my life because of the career I chose, I’ll make up for in joy; a joy I don’t think I personally could have found anywhere else. 

What is the most challenge part (to you) about being a musician?

I think the growing pains of a musician (or any creative person) can be painful. When we create we lace little pieces of ourselves and our identity into our work. So when it comes time to grow, we have to be willing to take criticism and improve on something that we identify with on a deeply personal level. For me, growing as a musician or songwriter, in many ways means being willing to be hyper-critical of myself and my little creative-offspring. That’s easier some days than others. On one hand, I just want people to tell me they love what I create, but I know that I there are lots of things I want to improve on and I will never improve if I only ever listen to people who praise me. On the flip side, I know I will never please everyone and can’t base my self worth in the respect or admiration of other people. So it’s a tough balance between loving yourself and also being willing to take criticism as an opportunity to grow. 

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Oh gosh… I’ve had my fair share of these moments. (Haha!) There are two that come to mind and they pretty much tie for “most embarrassing moment on stage”. The first one happened to me when I was in middle school performing in what we called “Calgary Idol”. A bunch of young singers in Calgary all auditioned to compete and perform on a big stage in the middle of one of the shopping malls in the city. I made it past the first round of auditions, and when it was my turn to perform on the big stage in the mall, I was super nervous… so nervous that I forgot all the lyrics and froze in front of hundreds of people. They had to stop the music and walk me off stage. MORTIFYING! 

The other time was when I was in High School. It was in my grade 12 Drama class and we were all performing our final scripts. I got through about 5 minutes of the 15 minute play (in front of a room of all of our family and friends) before I began forgetting all my lines. It got so bad that at one point I just kinda shrugged at my partner and we found a way to end the play. That one was especially hard because I was letting down my partner and our director. We had worked really hard to do well and take our play to competition …and I completely botched the entire thing. Yikes!

Where do you see your career in 10 years? What are your goals for your future in music?

In ten years, I hope to see myself super busy! Writing often, releasing records, touring a bit. Maybe living in L.A., but probably living in Nashville. I want my days to be filled with creativity and connection. My favorite part of my job is being part of the creation of something awesome with people that I admire… so I hope to be doing a lot of that. Maybe more than anything, I want my music to be heard and to impact people. My favorite artists have all had a profound effect on my life and have gotten me through some pretty difficult stuff. It would be such a gift to be able to do the same for others one day! I also want to be able to support myself with my music, but I don’t think I really dream of being rich and famous. I’m sure there are aspects of that I would enjoy if that somehow happened for me, but I could take or leave that part of this industry.

Oh…and I want to be happy… If that’s not too obvious to say. (Haha!) I don’t think my happiness will come from my career alone. Honestly, I think it will have a lot to do with the people in my life and how peaceful my relationship with myself is. In ten years,I want to be continuing to find new ways to love myself and accept myself, and I want my art to be helping others do the same.

Sarah Troy offers a valuable insight into the importance of loving yourself and creating something that can help others, which I believe any artist can benefit from. One of my favorite parts of being involved with artists and their careers is that I get to see each one grow individually, and Sarah is no exception. She has the ability to share her own life experiences through her songs that I believe many people can connect with. Her candid responses and willingness to share her personal feelings on her own growth is something that I find truly special about her as an artist. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this talented songstress!


Be sure to check out more of Sarah Troy‘s music through her Soundcloud and connect with her via her social media links above.

(Photo credits: Alex Humphreys)

Jamie Becker

Jamie Becker was born in Whittier, CA. With the support of her family, the 21 year old made the move to Nashville about 3 years ago. Her sultry and bluesy sound leaves you wanting more. Her eclectic vocals might remind you of big names such as: Janis Joplin, Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks or Patsy Cline; but what I believe makes this girl so special (besides her phenomenal voice) is that she has a sweet personality and smile that *shines* so bright, that she has the ability to brighten any room.

We recently sat down for an interview with Jamie to learn even more about her.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

There’s moments when the music takes you in and the only thing that matters is the song and everything else gets lost in the song.

What do you think makes you unique as an artist?

My smokey voice and soulful approach to music backed up by a fun-loving spirit and personality.

Who inspires you musically?

My dad Jim Becker. Not only is he a phenomenal father, but he’s a captivating songwriter, singer, and guitar player as well. He recently came out with his self-­recorded and mixed album “Dinosaur” which is starting to take off in the Los Angeles area. He is my biggest inspiration and role model.

What’s the one album you can’t live without?

Abbey Road by the Beatles.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment (so far) in music/what has been the coolest experience you’ve had in your career so far?

Getting to sing backup on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with Belmont Chorale for the Rolling Stones was unbelievable. I grew up singing along to Dead Flowers, Gimme Shelter, Streets of Love, Tumbling Dice and the list goes on and on so it really was a dream come true to share the stage with Mick Keith, Charlie, Ronnie, and my idol Lisa Fischer.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give other artists that are out there trying to make it?

Some advice I’ve been given which has really paid off is aiming to stay true to who I am and working hard at it despite the obstacles along the way.

What venue do you like to perform at the most?

People’s houses­, hands down! The sitting around the campfire vibe can be so much fun and intimate! I aim to achieve the same atmosphere in my shows elsewhere.

What projects are you currently working on?

The Album!!! Currently getting the recording done for a few new tunes including “I Sure Like Country” which traces the genre back to storytelling in its lyrical content. Also looking forward to the fun soul elements in this next album! Also a music video is in the works!

What’s your favorite way to connect with fans?

I’m absolutely terrible at social media, but the last time I posted a video, it seemed to go well and it was pretty fun to do! So, I’ll probably do more of that! And yes, interaction at shows is the best. I love getting that one on one feedback and getting to know fans, especially since they are the reason I do music in the first place!

Who are your biggest supporters?

My family has been so integral in supporting my endeavors. My mom shares every project I’ve ever done with her friends, and my dad is always the first to share posts about my music on social media! They are my biggest supporters, along with my sisters and boyfriend, who not only encourage me when I hit a roadblock, but love me and inspire me constantly.

If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?

Jack White. He gets into the nitty gritty soul of music and would be a blast to jam with.

Where do you see your career in 10 years? What are your goals for the future in music?

3 solid albums over the next ten years would be great! At least 50 shows a year would be stellar. I also never want to set limitations on what I create. I hope to evolve as an artist and follow the music where it takes me.

What was your first gig?

Dr. Java,­ a coffee shop in Whittier, CA, where I used to perform with my dad who is also a singer/ songwriter. I would do the first hour, he’d do the second, and we’d finish with an hour of duets! We usually ???

How long have you been performing/playing music?

Singing since age 5; writing songs since 11; performing publicly since 12.

Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?

I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. I starred in some main roles in elementary school plays; in middle school began playing music regularly at a coffee shop called Dr. Java with my dad in our duo, “The Beckers”, which later evolved to the Southern roots duo “Deep Fried Bubblegum”. In high school, I had a band that performed at school events and even put together a John Lennon tribute on the anniversary of his passing. I was always doing music and loving it. Academics was a priority, but going to late night open mics was too, as well as going out of town on weekends to perform at festivals, etc. With all that, I think the defining moment was when a Grammy nominated friend of my father’s pulled me aside after my performance in a group to raise money for Paradise High School’s Music Department( my dad’s alma mater) and told me that if I wanted to do music for a living, he believed I could be successful. It was that conversation which got me seriously thinking about my passions and the reality was that I can’t imagine a future without music.

Have you ever had an experience that turned into a song?

All the time. A ladybug and a boy sparked one of my first songs when I was 12. Some painful times influenced “Sweet Lord”, and a frustrating conversation about genre stereotypes led me to write “I Sure Like Country”, which aimed to bring the focus back to my favoring a story-themed country song.

What are your hopes for your future in the music industry?

To be able to support myself doing what I love and maybe have a career like Norah Jones. People love her music but paparazzi are not at her door all the time.

In general, what are your hopes for the music industry?

I want to see more stars who can carry a career with their music alone, as opposed to the all the glittery acrobatics and dancing of the shows and gossip of their social lives. I am a strong believer that if more songwriters/artists spent more time developing a song, as opposed to pumping one out to meet a deadline, there would be more artist success and audiences would begin to value music even more.

Jamie Becker has the type of passion that you can only be born with. Jamie’s love for music and her appreciation for her family’s influence on her musical career is something that is very humbling. Shine On Music City thrives on artists that are truly authentic and perform because of their love for music. We are grateful to be a part of a chapter in Jamie’s musical journey, and we can’t wait to see where her talent takes her!

Be sure to follow Jamie on Facebook and check out more of her music through SoundCloud and Reverbnation.

(Photo credits: Eva Unzueta)

Shawn Byrne

Shawn Byrne Promo 1.jpg

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of sitting down with Shawn Byrne and getting to know him better. Shawn’s charisma and passion for music is infectious and I believe is exactly what the music industry needs more of.

Shawn Byrne grew up in Boston and eventually made the move to Nashville. He grew up listening to his dad play polka music with his band, “Happy Travelers”, and knew from an early age that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in music. With accolades such as: performing at the Grand Ole Opry, The CMA Awards, George Bush’s homecoming in Midland, TX, and sharing the stage with Rodney Atkins, James Otto, and Kelleigh Bannen, Shawn has had the opportunity to see what it takes to make it in the music industry. Shawn is currently on tour, and recently produced his own album, “Slow Bullet” (which was released in March). His ultimate goal, however, is “Anything I can do that I love”.

During our time together, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him and watching him light up as we discussed the music industry and everything that he has been working on. In this interview, Shawn’s passion shines through even more.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years. What are your goals for the future in music?

In 10 years I hope to be healthy and happy foremost. I’d like to have a kid with my beautiful wife Amy. I’d love to still be playing, writing and performing. I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing that.  I’d love to have grown as an artist and as a human being making a difference in the world.  For my future music career? I’d love to have connected with a large fan base that appreciates and supports what I do. I want more than anything to be successful enough to go on the road with a full band and even a crew. That’s the ultimate goal for me. There’s no greater feeling than being on stage with 4 or five of your best friends making music right there in front of an attentive and appreciative audience.  I’d don’t care about being famous, it’s more about being able to just simply do it and do it well to the degree that lots of people want to see how great the music is. The music is what it’s all about.

If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Tom Petty is one of my heroes. The man has carved an incredible career for himself and he has done it without selling out. He plays the music he wants to play and he does it with integrity.  Tom has cultivated an incredibly loyal and appreciative fan base which again, is my ultimate goal.

As a guitar player I’ve always admired Mike Campbell’s style. He loves old guitars and amps like me. He plays exactly what is needed for the song and his guitar parts, aside from Tom’s vocals, are one the most crucial elements in the Heartbeakers sound.  My dream would be to stand onstage with Tom and Mike and the rest of the band and just play all the classics.

What are your hopes for the future of the music industry?

Well right now the internet is the iceberg that put a giant hole the Titanic know as “the music business”.  It’s been sinking for a long time now and I think right now we’re seeing the tail end of the behemoth sticking out of the water and pretty soon the gurgling bubbles will be all that is left.  Yeah, that’s pretty dramatic I know. Right now only the top artists are making any money on the commercial level and sadly popular music has been distilled down this one goal: How can we make as much money as fast as we can. The major labels and the corporate radio stations are all “in bed together” and are pumping out music that is the equivalent to high fat, high sugar fast food. I call it “McSongalds”. It’s working for them right now, but the industry has boxed out any artist who want’s to do their own thing. Who wants to create music that sounds original and actually says something. The current model for commercial success is one that encourages a homogeneous sound.  Notice how on country radio you hear basically the same words over and over again. The same chord progressions and vocal phrasing. The same production. “McSongalds”.  I must say it has been getting better.  The trend is leaning towards songs with better lyrics and interesting musical ideas which is encouraging.  Streaming is a huge problem right now and has completely decimated album sales. Why purchase a song when you can stream it. The problem is is that streaming music barely pays the songwriters. So there’s a lot of really depressing things going on in the music business and there’s some exciting things going on as well.  As an independent artist, the internet is an incredible way to reach people who would never have known about me before. It’s an incredible marketing tool but sadly that doesn’t always amount to record downloads.

For the future of the music business, I want to see a world where artists and songwriters can get paid fairly for their work. Right now you can have millions of streams on Pandora and not make enough to pay rent. That is just simply not right. I’d like to see a model that exists that simply is fair.

With a desire to produce honest and real country music (and a family background deeply rooted in music), Shawn has a true understanding of the music industry and the importance of doing what you love.

Be sure to check out Shawn Byrne‘s music on his website: and his Youtube channel, or connect with him through his social media links below.


(Photo credit: Stacie Huckeba)

Pat Kiloran


Pat Kiloran, a transplant originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, grew up taking piano lessons, and eventually began songwriting. Whether he was playing drums, guitar, piano, singing, or writing, Pat knew that he wanted to write his own music and that he wanted to “make people feel something”. In 2014, Pat began his solo career in Alternative-Pop music. He ultimately made the move to Nashville, to pursue his passion for making music in “Music City”.

In a recent interview, we sat down with Pat to discuss his career, his new upcoming album and his personal life and how he manages to balance it all.

Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?

I’m not sure if there was one moment, but there definitely was a progression. I remember listening to my mom’s Newsboys and Steven Curtis Chapman CD’s when I was maybe 8 years old and just loving it. For some reason, I thought those records were like super rockin’ or something. Eventually, once I entered junior high and high school, I started listening to things my friends were into at the time. So, in a Christian private school, Switchfoot was big, Relient K was big. American Idol had just got going so I was into Kelly Clarkson. I look back, and it sounds dumb. But it was just what was there.

It was really when I started listening to the radio that I started to take a real interest in music as art. I was hearing bands and artists like Kanye West, Green Day, The Killers, etc. for the first time. And that just opened the door to discovering and taking in so many different kinds of music. And then at some point, as I listened to, watched, and tried to learn the songs of these different people, I realized that creating music was something I needed to do. So, I started writing my own songs, as bad as they were, and that was that.

What was your first gig?

The first show I ever played was with my second band, The Domino Effect! (Yes, there was an exclamation point at the end of our name; I’m not excited about it). The first band I ever started was with a good friend of mine, and we practiced a couple times and never played a show. Anyway, The Domino Effect! played our first show at a now defunct youth center in Roseville, Minnesota called “The R2 Center.”

It was a big room sectioned off into different areas of activity. Floor hockey, video games, computers, foosball, and a stage. I remember being so nervous and sweaty in my blue, checkered flannel shirt, my ripped-up jeans with bandana patches my grandma had sewn into the tears, and my green Converse high-tops. The crowd was made up of maybe 30 friends from school and, of course, family members. It went by in such a blur and we messed up a bunch, but I remember loving every minute of it. I also remember rolling my eyes at my mom when she told me to actually talk into the microphone. She was probably right.

What do you think makes you unique as an artist?

I honestly don’t know what being unique means anymore. There are so many artists doing so many different things that it is hard to create anything that doesn’t draw a correlation to someone else.

I will say that I think the most important aspect of finding your “thing” as an artist is to just make what you like and what comes naturally. Don’t make something that isn’t “you” just because you think someone else will like it. Many people are searching for real, “small-business” art. You can find a commercial song anywhere, and there is nothing wrong with a mainstream sound. But I tend to believe that the artists that last (if not in the industry, then in our memory) are the ones that make something that is strictly of themselves. They aren’t creating strictly to please anyone. They are creating because they are supposed to. And the results are often much more unique.

We previously had spoken about this album & I found your concept very unique and interesting. Can you elaborate on how the process of how this particular album was written?

Sure! So it’s a concept record about actions and behaviors in our society that are often looked upon as either normal or maybe just taboo, when in fact they are destructive to yourself and those around you.

“Saint Sierra” starts off with a song about a man’s constant losing battle with lust, pornography, and womanizing. And it eats away at the inside.

“I Don’t Really Care” turns to narcissism and arrogance. Our social media culture is rampant with people constantly looking in the mirror, disregarding those right next to them.

This leads us to “Softer Skin”, the tale of a man caught up in an affair, but completely unwillingly and unapologetically. Coming from a broken home, I’ve seen the effects affairs have on families directly.

We wrap up with “Gin On My Lips.” Hardly a bar song, it tells the story of someone caught in the grips of addiction. And finally asks the question: “If I’m barely here with me, how can I be there for you?”

There are several interlude tracks helping to carry the story, as well.

Is it challenging to have a real social life outside of performing? What do you do to keep the balance? What do you do in your personal downtime? How has being musician affected your family life?

Ironically, I’m trying to stop my son from crawling into the kitchen while my wife cooks dinner before I go to see some friends as I’m answering this. So, these are appropriate questions.

I wouldn’t say it is challenging, per se. It can definitely be hard to find a work-life balance at times, but often they go together. Many of the people I write with or play with are my good friends. So, I’m able to work while I hang. And often times I am right at home with my family while I work on booking or marketing or whatever.

I don’t find myself having as much downtime as I used to. Between taking care of a one-year old, writing with people a few times a week, managing emails and social media, prepping for a record release, and my touring “day-job,” it really doesn’t leave too many hours in a day left over.

However, when I can, my wife and I watch a lot of movies. I love film. When I’m actually home, we spend time with our church and our friends. I play tennis and golf as often as I can. And, like everyone else, I love hitting as many restaurants, new and old, as my bank account will allow.

Who inspires you musically?

A little bit of everything. Everyone says that. But I rather learn from several different styles and people than pigeon-hole myself. Lately, I’ve been all over the map. Last year it was Ryan Adams. A couple months ago, it was the new The 1975 record. Then after that, the new Kanye and Drake records. And right now, I’ve been working my way through the new Saosin album. Sometimes I’ll draw inspiration from my friends’ records. Or other times I’ll take a feeling away from a visual piece of art. That doesn’t mean what I write will even sound like what I’m listening to necessarily. But there’s always something to glean from every piece of art, good or bad.

Knowing everything that you know now, what would you do differently in your career?

 I wish I had stayed committed to my projects longer. I always seemed to bounce around from this band to the next, from this genre to another. It didn’t create a lot of longevity in any project, and therefore, it didn’t create the followings I hoped for. That’s why I decided a year and a half ago to just go solo and go by my actual name, so that I don’t have as many excuses to make random, impulsive changes.

I also wish I had realized how much of music is business. I’ve had to learn all of that over the last year or so, and it takes so much work to do anything right. I just wish I had realized that a long time ago.

 What projects are you currently working on?

On July 12th, I will be releasing my sophomore EP, “I Know Everything That You’ve Done.” It kind of functions more like a “mixtape” as it has several interlude tracks to carry on the story of the record. I’m really looking forward to getting this music out. It’s been finished for awhile now, but I promised my wife I’d release this one right. So, I tried my best to be patient. But I’ve put everything I’ve got into this record, as have many of my friends who worked on it with me, and I really hope that is reflected in the writing, performance, and overall sound of the record. Buy it. Stream it. Just do it.

Do you have any big shows or projects coming up?

Speaking of which, on July 12th, we are having a record release show in Nashville. Details are still coming together, and they will be finalized soon. It’s going to be incredibly fun. You can check for updated details over at

What are your hopes for your future in the music industry?

Man, all I hope to do is make something good and provide for my family. That’s all I can ask for.

With his unique, complex thought process, and friendly personality; Pat Kiloran provides something truly essential in the music industry.

Be sure to check out Pat’s latest single, “I Don’t Really Care” and look out for his sophomore album, “I Know Everything You’ve Done”, which *shines* a light on significant, real-life topics through his multifaceted songwriting.

“I Know Everything You’ve Done” is slated to be released on July 12, 2016. Also, stay up-to-date as Pat continues to release more music by visiting his website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Photo credit: Alicia St. Gelais)



Joseph Aaron


Joseph Aaron was born in Virginia and made the move to Nashville in 2013. After working on the business side of the music industry with Capshaw’s Red Light Management for 10 years, he decided to pursue his solo career. He has shared the stage with David Nail, Edwin McCain and Everclear. NSAI has deemed him as one of their “Artists to Watch”. His current EP “The Mountain, The Lion, & The Labrador” is nominated for the 2016 Indie Ville TV Awards for Indie Pop EP, which will be on May 6, 2016 at Rocketown. Joseph is also currently working on his newest EP, which is set to be released in the summer/early fall.

I recently caught up with Joseph as we discussed his journey in the music industry so far.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

There is no ‘normal’ day. You could be behind the piano one day and 500 miles away playing a show the next.

What do you think makes you unique as an artist?

I think using the piano as a front instrument is a major point of differentiation. The fact that I play the piano like a lead guitar also probably helps. Though I’m pop, I have a strong narrative style that blends my background in folk with my love of soul of pop.

What’s the most challenging part (to you) about being a musician?

Remember how I said there’s no normal? Because every day is different, every day brings new challenges. Sometimes it’s a business challenge, like ‘how do I get my music out to a wider audience?’ Sometimes it’s an internal challenge like ‘I need to write..but I feel like I’ve exhausted the creative wells inside today.’ Navigating the personal and professional is hard for anybody, but when your career depends on blending the personal and professional, it can feel overwhelming at times.

Is it challenging to have a real social life outside of performing? What do you do to keep the balance? What do you do in your personal downtime?

Hibernate. I have only so much social battery before I need to recharge on my own, whether that’s writing in a coffee shop or reading at home.

Who inspires you musically?/ What’s the one album you can’t live without?

I don’t know that there’s one album I can’t live without, but I will say at this point in time I’m enthralled with the latest albums by needtobreathe and Coldplay.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Oh, it’s always the same. Forgetting lyrics, playing the wrong song…I’ve been fortunate enough to have always had a band of solid players…so they usually cover my mistakes.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment (so far) in music/what has been the coolest experience you’ve had in your career so far?

Crazy as it sounds, opening for Everclear. It was a sold out show and the crowd was really into it. It makes such a difference when you have an active crowd. You want to give more/play harder. I’m not really sure how to explain it.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give other artists that are out there trying to make it in the music industry?

You’re going to want to give up. Don’t.

What venue do you like to perform at the most?

Small clubs, for sure. They usually have their own dedicated following that’s pumped to discover new artists. So even if you don’t have a fan base there, you’ll have a good show.

Knowing everything that you know now, what would you do differently in your career?

Start earlier. Without a doubt.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on my follow-up to “The Mountain, The Lion, and the Labrador”.

What’s your favorite way to connect with fans? Pictures, Social Media, Interaction at shows?

Always in person, for sure. Outside of that, probably Instagram.

What was your first gig?

Definitely a 4th grade elementary school talent show. That counts, right?

How long have you been performing/playing music?

Since third grade…so just this side of ‘forever’


Where do you see your career in 10 years? What are your goals for the future in music?

I’d love to tour in Europe, but my biggest ambition is to get to a level of success that can support me and a family. That’s my definition of success.

Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?

When I got shortlisted for a Ryan Gosling film…I guess I needed that validation to put me over the edge.

Have you ever had an experience that turned into a song?

More or less, all of them.

With a genuine personality that can light up a room, Joseph’s unique artistry and passion for playing piano with his signature pop/rock/blues vibe makes him an artist you will want to keep your eyes and ears open for. With his clear vision for the type of music he wants to share with the world, Joseph truly has something special as an artist.

Be sure to stay up-to-date as Joseph continues to release more music by visiting his website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also stream Joseph’s entire EP, “The Mountain, The Lion, and The Labrador” on SoundCloud here.

(Photo credits: Brandon Bishop of Bishop Photography)



Kamber, age 25, moved to Nashville from Lakeland, FL three years ago. Currently, she is working on a new project for her band, Raviner (set to release their debut EP later this Spring). I personally love her solo artist music so much, I convinced her to let me to do an artist spotlight on her solo music as well. Kamber is considered an alternative artist, but I truly believe that she has a sound and musical style that anyone could enjoy. Her cover of “Can’t Feel My Face” by “The Weeknd” recently won 3rd place for Cd Baby’s Pop Unplugged contest.

As a music promoter, I frequently get the opportunity to meet and speak with a lot of extremely talented, local artists. Every now and then, I come in contact with an artist that sincerely reminds me of why I started Shine On Music City. Kamber is one of those artists. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with her, and she offers some incredible insight to anyone considering pursuing their passion for music. With her ability to release music that reflects her authentic style, I am genuinely excited about her upcoming music with her solo career, as well as with her band, Raviner. Kamber’s hauntingly beautiful songs, phenomenal vocals, and the way she connects on a very real level truly impressed and inspired me.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

I love having the gift of music as a language. Whether I’m alone or with other performers and artists, it’s something we can interact with and express in a way to tell a story, to engage with others and ourselves.

What do you think makes you unique as an artist?

A lot of my music is piano-based. In my opinion, far too much music right now uses the piano as a “gimmicky” instrument. I like it to be the main focus, however. But, many of my songs are not necessarily piano-based, and something that I think sets my artistry apart is that it definitely has “pop” sensibility. Not necessarily in “style” or “genre” always, but in the raw material. How the verses flow. How the pre-chorus builds, and how the chorus hits. I’m so thankful for my education and training to understanding songwriting conventions and structures, especially from my songwriting teacher, Rick Elias, from my time at The Contemporary Music Center in Nashville. He always emphasizes the importance of understanding song structures, narratives, etc. These are the tools that help artists effectively express their songs. I think a “pop sensibility” that’s juxtaposed with a raw, “alt”, ambient, sound is kind of my thing.

What’s the most challenging part (to you) about being a musician?

The most challenging part is not the music. I think it’s the hard lessons we learn as independent artists that all serve as a “vehicle” or sorts to transport our music. Maybe it’s the empty rooms we have to sometimes play. It’s the loud drunken audience member that’s a huge distraction during your show. It’s all the blood, sweat, and tears, sleepless nights, rigorous schedules to get the record done. But, my goodness it is absolutely worth it. A couple of my dear friends, Thomas Daniel + Geena wrote a song together called “Dance Til We Die”. The first line of the chorus exclaims, “this is the life we choose, with nothing left to lose”. That’s kind of become my mantra. Every day I wake up and live and breathe this life, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do so.

Is it challenging to have a real social life outside of performing? What do you do to keep the balance? What do you do in your personal downtime?

Absolutely. To be honest, a lot of the “hang time” I have with friends are with friends who are also musicians, artists, videographers, etc. Usually during those times we are working and collaborating. It’s fun for us! However, there are times when it’s absolutely exhausting! And that’s when I love to watch some comedy to lighten the mood. I love Portlandia. Anything to lighten the load.

Who inspires you musically?/ What’s the one album you can’t live without?

Some of my earliest influences are Lacey Sturm (previously from the band Flyleaf) and Underoath. Later in college I fell in love with beautiful electronic-based and piano based singer-songwriters like Imogen Heap, Plumb, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos. I now consider Tori one of my hugest inspirations. At the same time I was delving into the world of 90s alt. rock with bands like Nirvana, Hole, Soundgarden, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Local H, and the list goes on. It was always this “flip-flop” between raw, heavy, rock and ambient, ethereal pop. I used to feel like I needed to choose. Now I embrace both and I think both worlds are absolutely integral to my sound and don’t need to be separated from what I do.

One album I can’t live without. Hmmmm. Probably Speak For Yourself by Imogen Heap. That record changed my life. It kind of “gave me permission” to take risks with my piano playing and my melodies.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

I’ve had several!! I’ve had moments where I’ve started singing the wrong verses or totally forgetting the words. It just happens. You have to just keep going!! 🙂

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give other artists that are out there trying to make it?

Figure out why you want to do this. If it’s because you think it’s “cool”, that’s not a good enough reason. You’ve got to love it. Because this life is hard!

What venue do you like to perform at the most?

There’s a small coffeehouse called Inman Street in this college-town near Chattanooga – Cleveland, TN. I absolutely love performing there. Always a fantastic audience who really listen, and the staff always makes me feel welcomed. (Thank you Joel!) I also love this dive bar in Nashville called Springwater. Those folks love to rock. I’ve played there several times when I’ve performed with my band (not solo!) By far my most favorite venue to perform has been Exit/In with Raviner. We played our debut show there earlier this year with Reform the Resistance. It was an incredible honor to play a stage that so many legendary artists have played. It was kind of magical.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new solo project, but that’s very much in the “embryonic phase”! The main project I’m focusing my attention on right now is a new band that I front called Raviner. We have a debut EP coming out this summer, and lot of exciting things coming up later this year. Needless to say, it’s been busy! 🙂 I’ve finally found a balance to have certain goals and musical styles for “Kamber” as a solo project (or collaboration) and with my new band, Raviner. Both projects have very specific goals, and I’m excited to see where they lead!

Do you have any other big shows or projects coming up? If so, what are they?

Raviner has a couple of really exciting shows – we are playing The Crying Wolf on Thursday, April 21st, and we are honored to open up for Behold The Brave. Very excited about that. We’ve also got a couple of other big shows coming up, but I can’t share those quite yet!

What’s your favorite way to connect with fans? Pictures, Social Media, Interaction at shows?

I absolutely love social media. I’m a heavy Facebook user along with Instagram. Still trying to get the hang of Twitter. lol. And of course I love interacting with people at shows. If you like what you hear, I want to hear what you have to say and get to know you better!

What was your first gig?

My first “real” gig was my freshman year in college playing at a local record store in Lakeland called Evolution Records. I remember being so nervous and excited all at the same time. I remember talking way too much from stage. Just sing your songs. One more thought on that – an incredibly wise vocal instructor at Belmont always talked about “presentational” versus “representational” performances. Are you going to get up on stage and tell us how you’re ‘now going to play a sad song’, or, are you going to “BE” the art? That changed my life. I was working as a piano accompanist at the time, and I was so grateful to absorb some of her wisdom on that. I think it’s a matter of taking yourself seriously as an artist. If you don’t care enough about your music to act insecure or embarrassed about your “sad”, “angsty”, or “moody” songs, then why will the audience? You might as well do a Bieber cover and get it over with if that’s the kind of show it is. I’ve come to the realization that there will always be two kinds of people in my audience on any given night – those that “get it” and those that “don’t”. And that’s okay! It’s not for everybody.

How long have you been performing/playing music?

I was classically trained in piano from the age of six all the way through college. (I attended Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL, and graduated with a Music Business Degree in December 2012.) I started writing at the age of 13 or 14, some on piano, but mostly on acoustic guitar. I started teaching myself how to play around the same time. I slowly started singing in church, school, and in town, and started heavily performing once I was in college.

Who are your biggest supporters?

My mom absolutely. She has always encouraged my music. I grew up listening to her sing all sorts of songs – lots of Amy Grant. 🙂 My wonderful boyfriend of four years, Austin Huelsbeck. He produces and engineers all of my stuff. We’ve always had such a strong musical understanding. It’s just easy with him. Lastly, Tom Bracciale – Austin, Tom, and I all met each other back in 2012 at The Contemporary Music Center where we studied songwriting, performing, recording, etc. Tom has been my best friend and supporter since day one. He is an incredible singer/songwriter. We often play/sing together – we just get each other.

If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?

I would love to write with Tori Amos. And sing a nasty, groovy rock tune with Chris Cornell.

Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?

I grew up around music. I was studying classical piano and church music since I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was about 14 years old that I started writing and singing in front of an audience! I started writing to express my own stories and emotions after I had major brain surgery to replace my shunt which I’ve had since birth. It was a scary time where I fully realized my vulnerability, and even immortality. I realized I was absolutely dependent on it. And that was scary! I started writing songs about it and sharing them with my family and friends, and slowly started singing in church, school, and then in my community.  I was so incredibly nervous for my first solo. It was at my school in from of the entire 8th grade. Whew. It was traumatic for a middle-schooler. I sang a song called “Eagles’ Wings”, and then I just never stopped. Haha!

Have you ever had an experience that turned into a song?

Absolutely. Almost everything I write comes from an experience that I’m in the middle of, or something I’m reflecting on from my past. Or, I will be inspired by a friend’s story or a current event of some kind, and I’ll kind of start embellishing and carving out a narrative from that thought or idea. My writing almost always starts with one central image, thought, or specific phrase, and I just keep carving away to see what it wants or needs to be. Tori Amos always talks about “The Muses” and how they “tap her on the shoulder” when she’s inspired to write. I absolutely love that. I’ve started learning to listen to those urges right away and write. You don’t want to stifle those moments, or, I believe you may lose the song, and it will find someone else.

Between all of the hard work on Kamber’s solo career and her upcoming projects with Raviner, she is definitely someone you will want to continue following. I absolutely believe that this girl will have a long, successful career in music.

Kamber’s music is available for download on iTunes or Noisetrade. You can hear more of her original music on her website You can also follow her updates and connect with her via the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Be on the look out for more music by Kamber, as well as her band, Raviner in the coming weeks.

(Photo credits: Kaitlin Andrews Photography)

Kelcy Hyde


Kelcy Hyde is a 21 year-old country cutie from Las Vegas who started singing at the age of 6. She even had the opportunity to open for Darryl Worley at age 13. She has also opened for artists such as Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson. She has also played at many music venues all over, including the very popular, well-known venue, The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Most recently, Kelcy co-wrote all of her songs on her album, “Your Heart Amazes Me”.

I had the opportunity to meet Kelcy Hyde a couple of months ago. We discussed her journey into the music world, and she shared the meaning of some of her songs with me. These songs stem from Kelcy’s real life relationships. I immediately realized that this girl is not only an incredible singer, but also her ability to share her gift of songwriting with the world through very personal and emotional songs is truly touching and inspiring. I firmly believe that with her sweet nature and true passion for music that she will be an artist people will want to follow.

In this interview, we get the opportunity to learn even more about her.


If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?

My whole life I have listened to one country singer more than anyone and he is my favorite. With that said, I am completely sure that if I had the opportunity to perform with George Strait, I would cry!

What’s your favorite way to connect with fans?

My favorite way to connect with fans is in person of course! There’s nothing like actually shaking hands with your fans and talking to them face to face.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

Just being on stage, performing songs that you’ve created and singing your heart out to everyone in the audience. I can’t explain how magical it is, but it’s my favorite part about being a musician.

Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?

When I was 6 years old, I sang “Seek Ye First” in my church talent show. Originally, a pianist was supposed to accompany me on the song, but unfortunately couldn’t make it. Instead of backing out of the show, I decided to sing the song A Capella. That was the first time I had ever performed on stage, sang a solo, or received a standing ovation in my entire life. After that, I was hooked.

Be on the lookout for Kelcy’s single, “Boots Off”, which will be released within the next couple of months.

Kelcy’s current album “Your Heart Amazes Me” is available for download on iTunes. You can see Kelcy’s full schedule on her website

You can also follow her updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Photo credits: Alissa Anne Photography)

Rachel Lipsky


Rachel Lipsky exploded onto the country music scene when she won the Pepsi Southern Original competition in 2014. In November 2015, Lipsky released “Ready Set Whiskey”. The single showcases Lipsky’s unique blend of traditional southern rock and brass knuckles country and invites listeners to the party. Rachel Lipsky has opened for Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, and Hank Williams, Jr. She has also been invited by Armed Forces Entertainment to perform for American troops overseas multiple times. Lipsky has won IMEA’s Country Female Vocalist Award and was a finalist in UnSigned Only’s International Songwriting Competition for “Ready Set Whiskey”.

I met Rachel Lipsky recently and she immediately impressed me. She truly is a firecracker on and off stage! Lipsky will blow you away with her powerful vocals and her entertaining, sassy stage presence. Rachel may seem like a country artist, but she has some southern rock in her blood. Off stage, she is a sweetheart and her passion for music truly shines through when you meet her.

Here is a more in-depth look into Rachel, who she is, where she’s been and what’s in store for this talented Country sweetheart.


What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

My favorite part about being a musician is being able to share the amazing gift of music. Music is the international language, it moves and evokes emotions, it helps us heal and resonates to our core. Music connects the world and breaks barriers. It’s exciting to be a part of this experience.

What do you think makes you unique as an artist?

What makes me unique as an artist is what makes me unique as a person. I am who I am.  I try to bring out my personality in my songs while I’m on stage. I’m upbeat, sassy, wanna rock out and don’t-care-what-other-people-think kinda brass knuckles country.

Is it challenging to have a real social life outside of performing? 

What’s a social life? Haha! Being focused on one thing has taken me to new heights in my career but there is a ton of sacrifice that goes along with it.  I have an amazing and solid group around me that is very understanding and supportive. I am willing to sacrifice my social life for a music career.

What do you do to keep the balance? 

I have to take each week as it comes and I have to decide the level of priority of each task everyday. I do try to make a small amount of time for me each day so I can get my workouts in or a little cat nap. 

What do you do in your personal downtime? 

When there is personal downtime, I enjoy watching movies, hiking, camping and hunting.

Who inspires you musically? 

Mary Chapin Carpenter has been the biggest inspiration for me as an artist. Chapin is such a hard working, super talented lady. She was ahead of her time while crushing the charts at her peak and still to this day tops the Billboard charts in the AAA format. To have staying power like that is a rarity and impressive.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment (so far) in music/what has been the coolest experience you’ve had in your career so far? 

The biggest accomplishment I’ve been able to experience in my career so far is going twice overseas to the Middle East and Africa to entertain our troops. It took me 6 years of applying before I got accepted and when I received the first acceptance letter, it was an amazingly emotional day. It’s my favorite thing to do as an artist and definitely the most rewarding. I hope to do it every year for the rest of my life.

What projects are you currently working on?

I won a contest with Pepsi last year and that gave me the opportunity to record some new music. With the studio time I won, my producer Shane Barrett and I were able to record 6 new songs that my team and I are super excited about. We just released the first single from the new batch of recorded songs, called ‘Ready Set Whiskey’, I wrote this song with my friend, Dan Banks. The music video is almost ready and we will be releasing that early in 2016.

Do you have any big shows or projects coming up? If so, what are they?

We have some really fun tours in the works for next year and I am SO excited to release more of the new music in 2016.

Rachel Lipsky is truly a total package. I know that great things are going to keep happening for her. This is definitely a girl you’ll want to keep watching out for in the country music world.

Rachel’s latest single, “Ready, Set Whiskey” is now available for download and streaming on iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube, Reverbnation, and Bandcamp. You can see Rachel’s full schedule on her website and follow her updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


(Photo credits: Shine On Music City)